“The Princess and the Matchmaker” may be billed as a romantic comedy (with a trailer that’s as zippy as they come), but it’s filled with enough bloodshed, treachery and grimness to make one question that label.
Tone isn’t all that’s confusing about this Korean import, which is set in 1753 and involves a lingering drought that the king (Kim Sang-kyung) believes will end only if his daughter, Princess Songhwa (Shim Eun-kyung), gets married. How nuptials will bring rain is anyone’s guess, but who’s gonna question the king?
Enter local diviner Seo Doyoon (Lee Seung-gi), who’s charged with finding the princess love by analyzing compatible astrological data, personal energies and destinies. It seems about as scientific as Tinder, but it’s taken very seriously.
The princess, however, who’s considered “jinxed” based on several childhood traumas, wants to be part of the matchmaking process, so she sneaks out of the palace (which is verboten) to spy on potential candidates.
Complications ensue as the princess takes a shine to her matchmaker, though scripter Lee So-mi’s stab at high concept proves extremely low-boil.
Director Hong Chang-pyo juggles a myriad of concepts, characters and dynamics, plus bits of flashbacks, action and folderol. But it all feels strained and more complicated than necessary. Then again, how many movies can boast of the line “I bribed a eunuch?”
‘The Princess and the Matchmaker’
In Korean with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Playing: CGV Cinemas, Los Angeles; CGV Cinemas, Buena Park